Salvation Army officials, who are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their arrival in Salt Lake City this week, say they'll continue responding to the changing needs of a complex society during the coming century.
"We've always tried to meet needs," said Maj. George Church, chief secretary of the Army's intermountain division. "And as needs change, we feel that we're quick enough to meet those changes."June 19th marked the beginning of a second century of service to the Salt Lake area, since a handful of soldiers of the Salvation Army arrived here in 1888 by rail.
Serving the homeless is emerging as one of the most critical issues to be addressed locally, Church said. With that in mind, the Army has purchased a downtown Salt Lake City facility to be used for the homeless.
The facility, at Third South and Fourth West, will allow the Salvation Army to assist in feeding and counseling Salt Lake City's growing homeless population. It will also house a second-hand renovation and retail shop, Church said.
The Army has purchased the building but is awaiting funds to renovate it. Officials hope the renovation will be completed by next year.
The group is also the benefactor of a former stake center, donated by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the LDS Church's First Presidency, presented the keys to the former 25th Ward meeting house a 428 S. Ninth West to the Army during a June 19th ceremony.
Col. Kenneth Hood, chief secretary of the Salvation Army's 13-state western territory, said his organization faces a challenging future.
Earlier in its history, the Salvation Army dealt almost exclusively with meeting the needs of alcohol abusers and related problems, Hood said. Now, the group is forced to confront "poly-abuses."
Alcoholics may also abuse drugs and suffer from other problems. Now more than ever, they are homeless and destitute, Hood said.
"The other thing we're finding is that in many of out programs, the age (of those we serve) is getting younger," he said, noting that drug abusers and homeless people may be teenagers.
"We're also having to take a look at the problem that everyone is looking at with AIDS," Hood said.
The Salvation Army is examining the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome epidemic "to see how we can make a meaningful contribution," that will include the "traditional values" embraced by the Army.
"We hold to the traditional values ... but, neverless, we have to try and be a help where there is a societal problem," he said.
In Africa, the Salvation Army is operating a hospice for those with the fatal disease, which has ravaged that continent, he said.